This Day in Geek History: July 11
Astronomical calculations suggest that this day marks the most probable date on which Pluto became the eighth most distant planet from the Sun for the last time before 1979.
Italian physicist Amedeo Avogadro publishes his theories on the molecular nature of gases. Despite being roughly correct, his theories won’t be widely accepted for nearly a century.
The U.S. Patent Office declares that Joseph Swan of England, not Thomas Edison, invented the electric light carbon for the incandescent lamp. Swan and Edison will later jointly establish a company to manufacture the first practical filament lamp. Edison patented the incandescent light bulb in 1879, a year after Swan patented the first carbon incandescent lamp in 1878. The original Swan side pin twist-lock lamp base (which Swan’s brother Alfred invented) evolved with the name “bayonet” base, and became standard on house lighting in Britain. For a century, Swan bayonet base lamps will be used in most car tail lights because the Swan base is more secure than the Edison screw base when vibration is a factor.
The first seven commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are appointed.
AT&T transmits the first transatlantic satellite television signal via the Telstar satellite (launched the day prior) from Cornwall, England to Andover, Maine. The broadcast, a transmission originating in France, becomes the first live television picture carried from Europe to America.
K&E (Keuffel and Esser Co.), the major U.S. manufacturer of slider rules, produces its last slide rule and it presents it to the Smithsonian Institution. The company has been manufacturing slide rules since 1891, but the slide rule was rendered obsolete with the invention of the hand-held calculator.
Skylab, the first American space station, reenters the Earth’s atmosphere after over six years in space, disintegrating over the Indian Ocean and western Australia. Several large chunks of Skylab survive re-entry and land in Australia without injuring anyone (but killing one cow), though the panic preceding the station’s fall to Earth is met with assurances that NASA will pay for any damage. When Skylab is destroyed, its marks four years of no American astronauts having been launched into space.
According to Twin Galaxies, Kevin Fisher scores a record-setting 456,190 points playing the Namco arcade game Super Pac-Man at the Video Invasion arcade in Dunkirk, Montana. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
The fourth .com internet domain, MCC.COM, is registered. The first, SYMBOLICS.COM, was registered on March 15th.
According to the United Nations, the world population exceeds five billion, twice the number of people on the planet in 1950.
Bill Atkinson, the developer of HyperCard software, leaves Apple Computer along with Andy Hertzfeld, co-inventor of the Apple Macintosh. Together with Marc Porat they found General Magic with the goal of developing a “personal intelligent communicator,” an important precursor to the personal digital assistant (PDA).
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